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While many people prefer the convenience of a wireless home network, there are still several compelling reasons to opt for a wired home network, including increased security for personal information, and greater ability to prevent outsiders from hijacking the Internet signal. When setting up a wired home network, the only real connectivity option is 10/100 Ethernet cable. This is required to configure any wired home network, and the quality between brands is typically interchangeable. Thus, the only decision to make is the specific type of network device for the home network: a hub, a switch, or a router. Which to choose depends on the specific goals behind creating the network.
A hub is a basic networking device which acts to connect multiple computers together on a wired connection using an Ethernet cable. The hub works by acting as a focal point for incoming information to the network. It receives information sent by other computers on the network and distributes it to all connected computers. The primary advantage to a hub is its cost and efficiency; hubs are cheap and there is nothing to configure or set up. Thus, if low-cost is a priority for the wired home network, the hub provides a strong solution.
Hubs are not without drawbacks, however. One substantial disadvantage is the fact that it cannot selectively send messages to individual network computers; each computer on the network receives every single message. Another serious drawback is the fact that a hub cannot receive and send messages concurrently. Thus, it is slower than other types of networking devices. Additionally, hubs are only designed for local area networks.
A switch is like a hub, but it can send and receive messages concurrently, making it faster than a hub. It can also transmit information to a specific computer, instead of "carpet bombing" it to all computers as a hub does. The downside is that a switch is slightly more expensive than a hub; the tradeoff is additional performance for cost. For local area network gaming at a reasonable price, a switch offers the a good blend of performance and affordability.
Finally, a router is the network tool of choice if the goal is to connect the home network to the Internet as well. Routers facilitate communication between two disparate networks, such as between a local network at a house and the wide area network of the Internet. When purchasing a router, be sure that it includes a built-in firewall — for security purposes — and the ability to password protect the network. This will offer a good level of performance and security for an Internet-capable wired home network.
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